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FORUM: What does innovation look like in your school? | An Enabling e-Learning event

Started by Nathaniel Louwrens 16 Mar 2016 9:24am () Replies (81)

Innovation in schools of any type needs to start with the idea that the goal is not to force kids to abandon their passions and interests for our curriculum.

- Will Richardson, Stop innovating in schools. Please.

blue orange Dictionary.com defines innovation as:

  1. Something new or different introduced

  2. The act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.

There is so much innovation going on in our schools. Leaders and teachers are coming up with new ideas, and new ways of doing things all the time. But what innovation looks like to one school could be completely different for another as each school has different goals and philosophies.

George Couros states in Innovation and best practice, that his “belief is that innovation in teaching and learning starts with empathy; truly trying to understand those that you serve.” He expands on this to say that it’s “not only a starting point, but a continuous part of the process”.

As with all things in schools, we need to ensure that student learning is foremost on our mind. This includes in how we innovate. Will Richardson made this very clear when he says,

To put it simply, innovation in schools today is far too focused on improving teaching, not amplifying learning.


Join the discussion

  • What does innovation look like to you?

  • What does innovation in your school look like?

  • Are the innovations in your school amplifying learning? If so - how?

  • How is digital technology supporting innovation in your school?

  • Where do the tensions/challenges lie if any?


Image source: Thom Lunasea - Flickr CC BY-2.0



  • Nikki (View all users posts) 28 Sep 2016 10:19am ()

    Wow Vicky, thank you for sharing your resource. This is certainly a real life situation for many of our students. I look forward to putting this question to my students and hearing the rich discussion that comes with it.

  • Nikki (View all users posts) 28 Sep 2016 10:40am ()

    Hi Leanne

    I am very much like you. I moved from a single cell class where I believe I was very innovative in terms of the things that were happening in my classroom. Being in a smaller rural school PD at times was limited, through my own desire to continue to grow and learn, through my own PD and my networking I found things to try and explore. 

    It was through a trip down to Wellington with a group of principals that my eyes were opened wider into what was happening and the changes that were being made to the way in which educators were teaching our students. ILE's, greater student agency, greater engagement from the students were things that really grabbed me and on reflection I was only just skimming the surfaces in my classroom, somethings I hadn't even thought of.

    I decided to make a change, and was appointed a job in a school where they had made the move into ILE's. I was in a class with 55 students and 2 teachers. At first it was quite overwhelming, I was simply trying to tread water as I learnt how the school ran, built relationships with my new staff, students and community. I too feel as though my innovation has been stumped a little, as I too find the baseline, the status quo, the flow in which the way my new school worked. The big challenge was being new to the way of teaching as well as being new to the leadership team. I was in awe of the new things I was part of, the new PD/readings I was being opened up to. It was exciting yet daunting all at the same time. 

    I have never done quite as much professional readings as I have in the last 8 months and I absolutely love it. I am in an environment where learning is valued and taking risks is part of the job. We are well supported when it comes to trying something new, if it doesn't quite work the way we thought it did then we use it as a learning opportunity and ask why/why not? what could we change? If it worked then the success is celebrated.

    Innovation is thinking outside the box, having the child at the heart of the matter. Being in at ILE we certainly have had to look at different systems we have in place to ensure we are meeting the needs of all of our students and that every student is held accountable. Through pushing the boundaries in terms of student agency, we have been able to see greater attendance, greater engagement and greater enjoyment not only for our students but for our staff as well as they see the joy in the students faces as they explore, persist and engage in the learning journey. 

  • Nikki (View all users posts) 28 Sep 2016 11:33am ()

    Hey Nathaniel

    Wow this is the first reply I have had to a post I have written. I must admit I have seen as quite daunting posting my ideas, but I guess the more you do it the easier it becomes!

    We have really pushed our kids in terms of knowing exactly where they are at and what they are working on to make progress, their next steps. We have progressions written in kids speak but we have also broken them down further so they truly understand what is means. Students set small achievable goals that they work on over a 2/3 week period (longer or shorter if need be). A small goal maybe 'to write complex sentences', first of all they find out what they are and how you write them, we then identify good examples in their reading and they begin to identify them when they are writing them. This can be used in any genre at any time.  Through doing this our students at no matter what level, are achieving success on a regular basis. They are able to see the progress they are making.

    We also use Student Directed Learning SDL on a regular basis. this is where the students (after spending a lot of time in term one learning how the brain works, and learning about the different learning styles) plan their own day, using must do's and can do's (or something along those lines). The place just hums when the students are part of this. We have the high self managers mentoring the students who know that self managing themselves is a work on. The students plan for when they will meet and work in their groups, when they will attend workshops, time to korero with their mentor/mentee. 

    Students are not afraid to ask for help, they will quite regularly request workshops for a skill or knowledge that they are not quite sure of. When we first started with workshops they were just held by the two classroom teachers. Then other students started to ask if they could hold the workshop as they knew the skill. This blew us away; the students who attended the student workshops respected their 'teacher' they listened and they learnt. We now have 57 teachers in our class and we are all seen as learners.

    We also use motivators such as new events or videos to help set a maths problem or as a writing starter. Some of these motivators have lead to student inquiries. We have started to use mixed ability grouping a lot exposing students to all levels of problems.This has also helped the students to identify what they need help with, having them request a workshop if they want to know more. The people we have used to help develop and create a maths programme with greater student agency are Jo Bolar and Dan Meyer.

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e-Learning: Leadership

e-Learning: Leadership

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